06/21/2007 11:00PM

Cable Boy bids to stay perfect

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - The undefeated Cable Boy takes the first step on a road that could lead to the Haskell Invitational when he faces four rivals Sunday in the $60,000 Coronado's Quest Stakes at Monmouth Park.

The Coronado's Quest, at one mile and 70 yards, is the first of two 3-year-old stakes for horses pointing toward Monmouth's $1 million Haskell on Aug. 5. The second test is the $150,000 Long Branch Stakes on July 14.

Cable Boy has run two times, both at this meet. He easily won his debut May 13 at six furlongs before breaking the track record for one mile and 70 yards on May 26, drawing off to a 4 1/4-length victory in 1:38.78.

His Beyer Speed Figures also have been sharp: an 85 for the maiden win and a 91 for the allowance victory.

Now comes the first stakes challenge for the son of Jump Start.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed," said trainer John Forbes, whose horses now run in the name of longtime assistant Pat McBurney. "You always want to be a little skeptical, but we thought he could be a real nice horse."

Cable Boy was ready to debut last fall but wound up quarantined with his stablemates during an equine herpesvirus outbreak at Monmouth that kept him on the shelf until last month.

Since the record-setting victory, Cable Boy has worked three times, most recently going five furlongs in 1:02 on June 19 with assistant trainer Gus Duarte aboard.

"We haven't squeezed the lemon," Forbes said. "I hope we did enough, but we are thinking about August.

"This will be a fair test. If he does win, I hope there is a horse or two behind us who can give us some credibility."

Keeneland Kid, second to Cable Boy in the allowance victory, is back for a rematch.

Keeneland Kid has run in the interim, posting a first-level allowance victory here June 9 for trainer Kelly Breen.

Saratoga Lulaby has the most extensive stakes experience in the field. The colt, trained by John Rigattieri, has run in five stakes, earning seconds in the Miracle Wood and the Private Terms - both at Laurel - and Monmouth's Spend a Buck on June 2.

Digger makes his first start since tiring as the pacesetter in an allowance race at Charles Town on April 13.

Digger has run twice in stakes, finishing third in the Maryland Juvenile Championship at Laurel and ninth in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park.

Pink Viper has the most experience in the field with 16 races, but only 2 wins. He was eased in his last race, a second-level allowance on May 28 at Belmont.

One of his best efforts was a pace-pressing victory in the Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct on Jan. 6.

* The second stakes slated for Sunday, the $60,000 Spruce Fir Handicap for New Jersey-bred fillies and mares, also drew five runners.

The racing office, reluctant to schedule two stakes with only five runners in each, rescheduled the Spruce Fir for June 27.

* Validation won his maiden in the fifth race Friday despite a broken right rein. Eddie Castro managed to steer the colt to a 2 1/2-length victory even with the equipment problem, which developed early in the race.